Nothing out of the ordinary: Bulls 83 – Bucks 75

From tip to finish, there were virtually no surprises in Milwaukee’s 83-75 loss to the Chicago Bulls Saturday night.  Both teams represented themselves well on the defensive end, as you’d expect the second and fifth ranked defensive teams in the league to do.  Milwaukee shot under 40%, as they often do.  Luol Deng played well against the Bucks, as he often does.  It was a pretty run of the mill evening.

Until the game was over.

Post game, Brandon Jennings let loose with some of his frustrations after another subpar performance.

“It ain’t like last year,” Jennings noted after making just two of six shots in 28 fourth quarter-less minutes.  “I’m not the go-to guy like I was last year. When I get the ball, I guess I’ve got to do something with it, because I know I probably won’t get it back.”

Jennings statements didn’t seem to be made with much malice.  Instead they were rather matter of fact admissions regarding things out of his hands that Jennings doesn’t appear to be thrilled with.  And while things obviously aren’t like last year across the board, it’s worth looking into how much weight his words hold.

Milwaukee’s young point guard is having virtually the same exact season he had last year, having replaced last season’s flaw of terrible finishing at the rim (up to 50.4% at rim from 42.7% last season) with worse three-point shooting this season (down from 37.4% last season to 33.3% this season).  He’s attempting less than a half a shot game less this season than he did last and has a nearly identical rate of possessions used (shots or turnovers per possession on court).

It’s after dramatic statements like the ones he made on Saturday night when it’s worth noting again that Jennings is 21-years-old.  He’s being asked to play an important role on a team full of bad basketball players, and the results haven’t been good this year.  His game hasn’t progressed as many hoped and the team has taken a big step backwards this season.  He’s frustrated, just like everyone else and while he and his teammates have spent most of the season attributing blame internally first before unto their teammates, eventually players are going to start looking around, that’s only human nature.

And after a game in which Jennings failed to so much as attempt a three-point shot for the first time all year, he looked around.  Most of Jennings threes come off drive and kicks from his teammates.  There weren’t many kicks to be had on Saturday, possibly because of the Bulls defense, possibly because Milwaukee’s wings just didn’t think it was ever the correct play.

Saturday, Jennings certainly didn’t seem to factor into the game, but that hasn’t been the story this season.  He’s often controlled the Bucks offense when on the court and it’s misguided to say the Bucks offense hasn’t run through their leading scorer this season.  He’s had his chances.  Saturday night was a frustrating experience for a 21-year-old searching for answers after another embarrassing loss, nothing more and nothing less.

Offense

Pretty standard dreadful Bucks offense on Saturday night.  Most telling was this: Earl Boykins played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter after not entering the game during the first three and was the Bucks third leading scorer with 10 points.  Boykins scored 10 in the fourth, while his teammates combined to score just six in the entire quarter.

  • Early against the Bulls, Milwaukee’s best offense was Luc Mbah a Moute mid-range jumpers, so it should come as no surprise that they weren’t able to sustain the 57.9% shooting they managed in the first quarter.  Once Mbah a Moute began to experience some foul trouble, the Bucks would not be able to find much else offensively.  But Mbah a Moute combined his ability to get past opposing bigs for layups with a rare ability to hit open shots on Saturday.  If ever this was a consistent thing for Mbah a Moute, he could really be an important player.  He would finish Saturday’s game making seven of nine shots for 16 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
  • After the first quarter, Milwaukee’s shooting percentages by quarter:  31.3%, 34.8% and 27.8%.

Defense

Mbah a Moute was strong as ever at the four, but when he was on the bench, things fell apart for the Bucks.  If there were a stat for offensive rebounds allowed due to blown box outs, Larry Sanders would have flirted with the league record in the first half.  When Sanders was forced into eight minutes of second quarter action, the Bulls responded with seven offensive rebounds, five from Joakim Noah alone.  Milwaukee’s rookie power forward sometimes failed to find his man and sometimes was just out-muscled and pushed under the hoop too far.  His game was a strong reminder of how far he has to come to be an effective rotation player.

  • The second chance points proved too much to overcome for the Bucks.  Chicago scored 28 second chance points to Milwaukee’s 15 and won the points in the paint battle 32 to 24.  Most of those points in the paint came on layups after offensive rebounds.

Final Thoughts

Andrew Bogut left the game with just over a minute remaining, not just because the Bucks were out of it, but because he had somehow aggravated his ailing elbow.  Milwaukee’s center wasn’t available to the media post game, as he was in the training room.  There’s no word yet on whether or not he’s anything other than day-to-day, but Bogut’s situation bears watching.  Milwaukee has now lost 10 of their last 13 games and no resurgence appears to be on the horizon.  Bogut’s said he’ll need a scope this off-season to clear out his elbow.  The team could get a jump on his rehab if he’s dealing with an injury now that would allow them to shut him down the rest of the way.

Whether or not they’ll continue on trying to grab an eighth seed will have a lot to do with how Bogut’s injury is dealt with from here on out.

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com.  Follow him on Twitter.  Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).

Categories: Recaps

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball. He founded it in…

12 Comments

  1. If they know the playoffs are out of reach, there is no reason to play Michael Redd. He’s not coming back next season anyway and why not give your other guys, Chris-Douglas Roberts, Jennings, etc more playing time instead of wasting it on a guy who is not in the Bucks future. Get these guys into a rhythm and definitely consider shutting Bogut down. I would say it will be decision time by next weekend. We know the Bobcats will fall out of 9th without Gerald Wallace, but do the Bucks really desire being 8th or 9th?

  2. @Josh
    I don’t think CD-R is apart of the plan going forward, so playing him more doesn’t really do much for the team. Coach Skiles more or less said yesterday that CD-R had his chances and wasn’t consistent enough.

    The oddity effect with Redd will at least be interesting. People will be curious about what he’ll do. He’s been a good enough guy that he deserves a shot to earn a new contract down the stretch if the season is finished by the time he’s ready.

  3. So do you think that Skiles needs to go? I thought his comments about Bogut the other day not trying as hard as he could were bogus and he has a history of wearing his welcome out. It just seems like this team does have the talent to compete with the upper echelon teams and despite the injuries this year there is no reason we should be a lottery team.

    As for CDR he clearly has the skills to be a good spark off the bench but Skiles has refused to play him (remember he had some impressive games when practically our whole team was injured, for example against the Heat). Now if it is because he doesn’t play defense that is fine but why did Hammond trade for players like Maggette and CDR if they are known for not playing defense?

    Also I think if Jennings spent more time working on his game in the summer than pursuing endorsements he could be a cornerstone of this franchise. I would have thought Skiles, as a former NBA pg would have been instrumental in his development. Your thoughts?

    Finally is this season just a fluke or do you think this team is doomed for the next five years?

  4. Jeremy. I too can remember “the good old days” when the bucks had players such as Alvin Robertson and as far back as Sir Sidney Moncrief, Paul Pressey, Junior Bridgeman, and Jack Sikma. This team perplexes me. I live in Michigan so I get to see very few games and can only follow the Bucks through news articles and blogs like yours. It simply sounds to me like the Bucks just don’t have players talented enough to compete. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears they a stud power forward along with a true shooting 2 guard. This is a team with a bunch of role players except for Bogut and Jennings. Who might be available in free agency to fill one of the positions I just spoke of? Does anybody want to go to Milwaukee to play? I desperately yearn for a good Bucks team again.

  5. Ahh, I had not heard Skiles’s comments regarding CD-R. Still, CD-R can be a great player if he works at it. I was at the Heat game and can attest to the talent being there, he just doesn’t bring it every night. Brandon has to get his act together this summer. He has to practice that shot for hours everyday in the gym and/or shoot less. It is inexcusable for a supposed franchise cornerstone to be shooting 38% from the floor every night. Bogut has to come back healthy but also work on refining his post game to get him back to where he was in 09-10. He was a borderline all-star but the elbow has killed him.

    Scott Skiles has been decent, especially considering the circumstances. I blame John Hammond in part for this year. Too many awkward pieces together combined with injuries have hurt. We have way too many overlapping positions. The Bucks don’t have the talent to walk it up the floor and work like that, we need some fast break stuff.

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  7. Pingback: Brandon Jennings, assists and his fit in the Bucks offense |

  8. Two things i’ve noticed about the Bucks offense that are worth pointing out:

    1) When wings penetrate to the basket, they tend to pass out to the elbows instead of attacking the rim. This may be due to lack of athleticism, but i don’t see any other team in the league this consistently passive in their offensive attack. Key culprits: Dooling, Jennings, Delfino, MBAM. Exception: Maggette

    2) While the stationary play of the Bucks 4s has been observed before, i think it’s notable to watch Larry Sanders on pick and rolls. He NEVER goes to the hoop. Someone with his athleticism should be attacking the lane after every pick and roll. Instead he hangs around the elbow-extended area and settles for jumpers.

    I don’t know if this is Skiles offense by design, but it’s very frustrating to watch. The only plays the Bucks seem to run are pick and rolls with a secondary curl handoff to the (usually left) wing. PFs and corner wings very rarely cut to the basket and teams just pack the paint knowing the Bucks can’t hit open jump shots. Whoever has the ball is the only guy in motion unless it’s a big coming to screen for the ballhandler. Way too predictable.

  9. @imnotjesus
    I kind of tackled what you’re saying regarding the wings passing out a bit in my post today. I recall you asking why I thought Jennings assist totals were low a while back in the comments section, hopefully I was able to answer some of your questions today.

    In general, Milwaukee seems to be terrible on pick and rolls, as you’ve said. I think it’s half on point guards and half on the rollers. They certainly run as predictable an offense as I’ve seen, but they are the one I watch more than any other.

  10. @Jeremy Schmidt Yeah, thanks. That post was great. I honestly think that, though the ballhandlers on the pick and rolls could do a better job of attacking, the real problems are due to the rollers. Their picks are too soft (especially Sanders) and their rolls are either nonexistent or poorly spaced.

    When i watch a good pick and roll team (New Orleans, New York, or Phoenix), I see how measured the PG is on the play. His head is up reading the defense and with only a moment’s hesitation, choosing the option given and attacking accordingly. This is never the case with Milwaukee’s pick-and-roll execution. It’s flat, indecisive and out of sync.

    Jennings by the numbers may not be a good pick-and-roll PG, but my eyes tell me that the lack of execution is mostly due to extremely poor bigs, including Bogut.